Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Build your own monster in Fear Fetchers by Kevin Damen

Inhabit the mind of a monster on a mission to collect fear from the houses of unsuspecting people. It's not-Monsters-Inc-but-it-is. Wonderful monster-building mechanics blend perfectly into a scarefest. One or two shot this game with a beer, glass of wine or goblet of BLOOD. Perfect for groups both small and large.

Monster Monster Monster!

Knead your monster from ashen brain putty by picking from a list of body parts. Your choices buff and nerf your attributes of Power, Sight, Sneak, Speed, Terror and Toughness as well as adding narrative-inducing extra rules. As your monster grows in experience, so too can its body parts grow.

Like lifepath generators, monster carving is a process that requires time but rewards you with something unique. The number of body parts is satisfyingly large, allowing even the most tired brains a fighting chance of creating something excellent.

Mechanicals

Skill checks are dice pool: you roll a number of dice for the most appropriate statistic for your action. You take the three highest scores, sum them and compare to a difficulty table. Any 6s can be re-rolled (exploding die) to add to the total. Where there isn't an appropriate statistics, you roll "free dice", which increase depending on difficulty.

Initiative is a simple Speed statistic check, highest going first. You can do two actions a turn: a movement and something else... such as going "Boo!".

It's more than just Boo!

Scaring scaredy-cat human NPCs builds on this mechanic. Humans are defined by Bravery, Dread, Spotting, Power & Toughness. These are used during the act of a scare, which comprises of Building Dread, Being Spotted and Delivering the final scare. In essense, you want to give the human the willies as much as you can without being detected before jumping out. The human is scared, you collect their fear, that turns into cash.

If you get into a fight with a human, you're doing it wrong. Three hits and you're out.

I fought the Lore and the Lore won

Where missions are on Earth, Monsters live in Spookington and it's more than just a Matrix loading program. There are different Overlords to work for, devices and limbs to purchase and hints of conspiracy and cunning. It sings of a wider world that your monsters inhabit rather than simply a clever monster building mechanic.

Gamesmaster love

With the players having all the fun, the poor GM is oft overlooked. The GM gets a special rule for when the players roll 1 (I'm not giving it away), which is brilliant. There are sample contracts, a bestiary (filled with humans), help on building your own missions and a sample missing called The All-Hallows-Eve Conspiracy, whose title alone makes me want to play it!

Free-friendly improvements

Fear Fetchers does a couple of things that I feel can be tidied up to make it more free-friendly. There's a lot of empty space (not good for home printing), the tables are large, pages are numbered in the corner with little margin and assumes facing pages. My home printer and I fell out when I last tried to print odd facing pages. It had to sleep in the garage for a week.

The index and appendix are great, I would add sub headings throughout to make navigation easier and avoid block-text of the "scary font" because that makes it hard to read (I'd leave the example contract as it is, though because being difficult to read is funny). I'd put the instructions to print shop on second page or back page.

Finally, I would add little rough drawings of monsters throughout. It would lift the game and make it easier to sell to a player group. As the tone of the game is light, home-made scritchings are perfect.

Boo!

An excellent idea, well executed. The core mechanic might not be your cup of Earl Grey but you can swap it out easily enough, leaving much of what Fear Fetchers is about. Definitely worth a read and ideal for a Halloween pick-up game.

Thanks for sharing Kevin.

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